cookies on a conveyor belt
PHOTO: Mulderphoto

Cookies are the backbone of your marketing campaign. They allow you to track, identify and reach out to potential customers across all devices. The problem is that cookies cannot retarget or reach new audiences because they don't work on mobile devices and in incognito mode.

Marketers are in a constant battle to keep up with the ever-evolving digital landscape. The latest challenge marketers face is how to innovate without cookies. With GDPR legislation and the new restrictions on third-party cookies that Google just launched, companies find it challenging to track their audience and thus provide personalized content. 

A World Without Third Party Cookies

Third-party cookies enable marketers to understand customer behavior better than ever before to customize messaging and optimize campaigns based on specific customer segments. This has allowed some brands to gain significant market share using this information at scale and personalizing advertising messages accordingly.

The use of third-party cookies is an important element of the marketing mix for many organizations. Third-party cookies are little pieces of code that allow companies to track users' browsing and shopping habits on their website. This data allows marketers to learn more about what customers want, why they might be visiting a web page or site, and how long they stay there. 

Like most businesses, marketing strategists have relied on third-party cookies to fuel their acquisition funnel. However, now that Google has banned third-party cookies, marketers need to leverage first-party cookies and data.

First-party data is the information that you collect from your users primarily while they are on your website. You need a system to collect this valuable data and then also a way to activate it to deliver more targeted marketing messages and on-page personalization.

Google's updates have brought a series of changes for marketers. Logan Mallory, Vice President at Lehi, UT.-based Motivosity describes some of them. He says that "marketers who are heavily reliant on third-party cookie data for retargeting and placing ads directly in front of people who match a certain user profile may see a lower ROI on their advertising efforts. Also, marketers will have to review their strategies and explore alternative tools for tracking. First-party data will also become a lot more important, and marketers need to make sure they're set up to track as much first-party data as they can for better targeting."

Related Article: CX Decoded Podcast: Helping Marketers Sift Through Data Privacy Law Haze

How To Deliver Personalized Content Without Third-Party Cookies

First of all, keep in mind that we're transitioning to an environment where the customers need to be made aware of the data they're sharing and have the right to choose what data they want to share. 

By offering more value to the customer and showing how the data they share can improve their experience, customers may be more willing to share data that would enrich the marketing data and in turn, their experience.

Let's take a look at some ways marketers can deliver personalized value to their customers without third party cookies. 

Leverage First-Party Data

Mallory suggests that to build better experiences without cookies, marketers should use first-party data. He says that "first-party data will also allow you to personalize ads to a certain extent by looking at the time spent on the page and the pages visited. Leverage data from your existing customer channels such as emails and use those data points to build a customer profile."

Enable Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising enables you to place ads on websites that fit certain keywords, so users on the website will presumably fit the profile you are looking for. For example, you can choose to display gaming ads on gaming review websites since the audience would likely be interested in games.

Enlist a Digital Experience Platform

Steve Daheb, CMO at San Francisco-CA.-based ON24 considers that adding a digital experience platform to centralize your tech stack is the first step towards delivering personalization without third-party cookies. He says that "digital experience platforms make it easy for enterprises to create, scale and personalize engaging webinar, virtual event and multimedia content experiences and garner rich, first-person data in the process." 

Go for IP-based Personalization

Gareth Noonan, GM of Advertising at San Francisco, CA.-based Demandbase, suggests that instead of trying to make cookies work, you should try different methods. He suggests you try IP-based identification, for instance. He says that "IP-based identification will still allow personalization outside of the walled gardens of first-party cookies. Intent data, which can uncover which company is reading about a certain technology, can still be collected to power marketing and sales intelligence. IP-based identification will also still allow for personalized advertising creatives that attract and advertise relevant content."

All in all, while personalization at the cookie level may not be possible in the future, IP-based personalization, utilizing Chrome's privacy sandbox proposal (FLoC), and using IdentityLink features with LiveRamp will still offer a level of interest-based advertising. Plus, contextual advertising and first-party data might give you more insights about your customers than third-party cookies can and without fewer privacy risks. 

Aside from these changes, it's now more imperative than ever to aggregate and utilize all available B2B data to personalize the messaging across all other channels, such as within your website, email, and offline channels, to make sure you engage with your customers.